Dune Movie Review: An immersive visual masterpiece that deserves a theatrical viewing

STORY: The first of a planned two-part adaptation, Dune is based on the fictional universe created by Frank Herbert in his 1965 classic sci-fi novel by the same name. Set in the far future, the film follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), as he and his family, the noble House Atreides, are thrust into a war for the dangerous desert planet, Arrakis.

REVIEW: Whoever rules Arrakis are in charge of the spices that only originate on this planet but there’s a catch. The new aristocratic regime must not only endure scorching heat and no water but also face brutal invasion from the evil House Harkonnen. Having exploited Arrakis’ resources and people for 80 years, Harkonnen won’t give up their golden goose so easy. The Atreides must also survive the hostilities of the native dessert dwellers called the Fremen, who loathe outsiders and their imperialism.

For those unfamilar with the books, Atreides is one of the great houses of the feudal interstellar empire known as the Imperium, overseen by the ‘emperor’. Paul, born on the planet Caladan as the son of Duke Leto Atreides I (Oscar Isaac) and his Bene Gesserit concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), drives the narrative. He inherits the Bene Gesserit power of ‘Voice’, that allows him to control others by merely modulating his vocal tones. Is he the one, who can give humanity a better future?

On the surface, Dune seems a lot and basic knowledge about Frank Herbert novels can help. The Islamic-Arabic terminology and multitude of characters can perplex a new viewer. However, it isn’t a prerequisite per se. Denis Villeneuve is a master of his craft, who never compromises on scale, meaning or emotions while bringing his visions to life. His storytelling uses voice-over so you warm up to Herbert’s futuristic universe slow and steady. Known for crafting cathartic epics, Villeneuve stuns you in each and every frame, commanding your unflinching attention. His detailing and scale is awe-inspiring. The legendary Hans Zimmer’s score captivates your senses. Filmed for IMAX, Dune is every bit an immersive visual masterpiece.

Do note, there’s more to Dune than its visual mastery. The plot navigates human control over ecology, political ambush, religion, faith and superstition, survival and beyond all, evolution of man. However, not once does the underlying social commentary overwhelm you. You get the gist of it all without losing sight of the magic and adventure that unfold gorgeously before your eyes. You are transported to the world of sand, sun, desert storms and the shadows, where eyes shine like diamonds. Religious aspects of the plot aren’t compromised on. You see a bit of Hindu, Islamic, Christian and Arabic influence throughout. Technology is a key aspect of the fictional setting of the Dune series and the grandeur and accuracy of the ornithopters, shields, et al is spellbinding.

In a key central role, Timothée Chalamet is outstanding as Paul Atreides. You see for yourself why the young actor is an Oscar nominee so early on in his career. His every glance speaks a thousand words. His acting potential, screen presence and range are incredible. Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Stellan Skarsgård render solid performances as well. Zendaya is effective in a brief role.

Big screen entertainment is back with a bang. Dune is the reason why we fall in love with the movies. This sci-fi extravaganza with deep human connect, deserves an IMAX viewing.

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